Snacks can be a good thing, but it’s important to use eating between meals as a tool for boosting energy and your metabolism. It’s easy to overeat, so it’s vital to be strategic in the way you nosh between meals—pay attention to what you eat, when you eat, and how to you eat to avoid any unwanted weight gain.
Focus on health. If you stick to fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense snacks, you’re already well on your way to good snacking habits. Avoid candy and chips, and instead go for a fruit or vegetable plus an omega-3 source, like walnuts, salmon, or flaxseeds.
Avoid grazing. According to nutritionist IIyse Schapiro, RD, “the most common pitfall when it comes to snacking is mindlessly eating and not paying attention to how much you’ve consumed.” You grab a handful of this, and a handful of that, and suddenly you’ve consumed a ton of extra calories without realizing it. Stick to snacks that you have pre-packed and portioned out for the appropriate amount of calories.
Avoid processed snacks. Packaged foods can still be healthy if you choose ones with few ingredients and a minimal amount of salt and sugar, so stick to foods in their most natural form. Try unsweetened oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, air-popped popcorn, a baked potato, or almonds instead of sugary cereals, chips, trail mix, and ice cream.
Don’t discount your workout. If you work out regularly, you might find yourself hungrier than usual. But if you consume more calories than you burned during your workout, you can undo the work you did. If you’re going to workout for an hour or embark on an intense cardio session, some easily digestible carbohydrates or a glass of juice are good for a light pre-workout meal at least 30 minutes prior. After your workout, stick to Greek yogurt and fruit or a smoothie for optimum muscle recovery.
Know when you’re dehydrated. If you’re lacking in H20, your body might think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty for water. According to Felicia Stoler, RD, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, “if you ate recently and shouldn’t be hungry, drink a glass of ice water before you reach for a snack, then wait 15 minutes.” If you’re still hungry, have a healthy small snack.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: healthy snack by havankevin, used under a creative commons license.
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